Townsville Bulletin

THE RIGHT STUFF Turning a crisis into fresh opportunit­ies


WHILE many businesses have struggled during Covid-19, others have flourished by solving emerging problems, catering to changed consumer behaviours, or just being in the right sector at the right time.

New businesses have also launched since the pandemic, began, with more than 365,000 entering the market in the year to June 30, according to ABS data – more than in either of the two previous years.

Start-up expert and director of partnershi­ps at HR software company Compono Raife Watson (pictured above) said financial support from the government over the past 18 months had helped.

“In the last recession, we didn’t have the government stimulus so people were just trying to make ends meet, but with these handouts it has allowed the breathing room for people to pivot and start businesses,” he said.

Mr Watson said people working from home were also finding more time to launch and work on side hustles.

“I’m sure bosses hate to hear this,” he said. “But they can be working full time and also work on the project they have really wanted to do.”

Family Business Australia chief executive Greg Griffith said 80 per cent of FBA members were in a stronger position now than when the pandemic started, and this was partly a result of consumers’ loyalty to supporting local businesses during tough times.

Mr Griffith was not sure if there had been an increase in new family businesses in the past 18 months but he reported a “massive increase” in FBA membership.

“Normally, we would grow about 4 to 5 per cent year on year, and we are seeing 10 to 12 per cent, depending on areas.”

Some products and services have boomed in the pandemic, rewarding businesses in the right place at the right time.

Mr Griffith gave the example of mattress company A.H. Beard, which initially put staff on hold and shut down operations when the pandemic hit.

But as Australian­s began looking for ways to make lockdown more comfortabl­e, “bed sales went through the roof”.

NATHAN Schokker and Sandy Lokas developed the “un-hackable” contact tracing app Safevisit with the hope it would be picked as the Queensland government’s official check-in app.

They missed out but adapted the platform and in February launched Safeticket, combining digital event ticketing and contact tracing.

“When someone gets to an event, they can scan one QR code to validate their ticket and it pushes them across to the Queensland check-in app so they can complete their contact tracing as well,” Mr Schokker said.

Mr Schokker, who is president of the Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce, said the BJCC was a shareholde­r, so at least 10 per cent of profits were injected back into the local business community.

BJCC members who lost jobs are among Safeticket’s seven employees.

Mr Schokker said the business was approachin­g $1m in revenue, having supported more than 50 events. It was recently brought on board for the Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia’s Brisbane Truck Show in 2023.

“We see the BTS as our first major step towards our own lofty goal of being the ticketing provider for the 2032 Olympics,” Mr Schokker said.

ADELAIDE Central Market trader Smelly Cheese Co is one of countless businesses that have adapted their business model to stay afloat and become stronger. Cheese expert and owner Valerie Henbest said they began offering digital cheese and wine masterclas­ses during the pandemic, and this opened the business up to a wider audience. “The world instantly grew in front of our eyes and borders meant nothing more than making sure the freight companies could deliver our goods on time and in perfect condition everywhere in Australia,” she said.

“We have also launched a Smelly Cheese Subscripti­on Box to be delivered monthly to anyone keen to discover new cheeses regularly and in the comfort of their own home.” Ms Henbest said the Adelaide Central Market launched a new home delivery service, too, allowing them to reach new customers. Although business would never return to its prepandemi­c form, she did not consider this a negative.

“Far from it – we are all a lot stronger and working more efficientl­y for it,” she said.

Cheese owner Valerie Henbest. Picture:
Emma Brasier
 ?? ?? Safeticket cofounders Sandy Lokas and Nathan Schokker. Picture: Josh Woning
Safeticket cofounders Sandy Lokas and Nathan Schokker. Picture: Josh Woning
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